What Are Early Symptoms of the Flu?

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Early symptoms of the flu may include conditions such as excessive or sudden fatigue or body aches and chills, according to Healthline. While fatigue can be an early symptom of a cold, in people who have the flu, the fatigue is much worse. Additionally, pain around the head and legs may signal oncoming flu, and many people experience chills before developing a fever.

Symptom Overview
While the early symptoms of a cold usually come on gradually, the onset of flu symptoms is more likely to happen suddenly. Early symptoms can include fatigue, sore throat, fever, muscle aches and chills, and digestive issues. Children can have additional early flu symptoms, including being unable or unwilling to eat food or drink fluids, crying with no tears and a fever accompanied by a rash. Those with concerns about any flu symptoms should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.

Cough and Sore Throat
Both coughing and a sore throat can be early symptoms of the flu, states Healthline. Coughing can also be a symptom of other illnesses, but in the early stages of the flu, a person usually doesn't cough up mucus or phlegm. Wheezing usually accompanies a cough that is an early sign of a flu.

In many cases, an early cough may cause a person to develop a sore throat, according to Healthline. In the early stages of the illness, a person's throat may feel scratchy and irritated. Additionally, a person may experience a strange sensation when swallowing. Sometimes the throat simply swells instead of becoming sore.

Fever and Chills
In the early stages of the flu, chills may signal the beginning of a fever. Fever is a very common symptom of the flu, although it is not always a symptom. Fevers caused by the flu are usually 100˚F or higher, and are a sign that the body is working against the spread of the virus. Acetaminophen and other fever reducers such as ibuprofen may provide some relief from a flu-related fever.

Gastrointestinal Problems
Early symptoms of the flu may also include gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting, according to Healthline. The type of gastrointestinal problem a person experiences depends on the specific strain of the flu a person catches, and these problems are usually more prevalent in young children.